Tulip Season in the Netherlands
Hello April! Tulips are nature’s way of announcing spring is here. Did you know? The Netherlands produces and exports nearly all the world’s tulips! Read on for more interesting facts about tulips and the Netherlands.
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The Netherlands Produce and Export Nearly Three Billion Tulip Bulbs Every Year
The Netherlands are the top exporters of tulips globally, exporting close to three billion tulip bulbs each year. The soil is perfect for the growing season due to the sandy-clay grounds. Surprisingly, it’s not the actual flower that’s in such high demand, but the bulbs themselves. Farmers will cut off the flowers shortly after blooming. This ensures a stronger bulb. The stronger the bulb, the more money farmers make.
Tulip season runs from March through May, peaking in mid-April when more than 7 million tulips bloom at the Keukenhof, a famous flower park in Lisse. You can even see the colorful blooms from space! In 2017, Keukenhof saw a record 1.4 million visitors. If you’re traveling to the Netherlands to see the blossoms, you can visit the tulip farms, but you’ll also find the vibrant flowers in picturesque farms along rural fields.
Tulips Did Not Originate in the Netherlands
When you think of Amsterdam and the Netherlands, you think of tulips! But did you know tulips didn’t actually originate in the Netherlands? They were imported from Turkey. In the 16th century, Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq, a writer, herbalist, and diplomat, was gifted some tulip bulbs to take back to Vienna. He then re-gifted them to his friend, Charles de l’Écluse (Carolus Clusius), who later went to the Netherlands to teach. It was there that Clusius’s tulips grew so successfully, they became the most sought-after flower amongst the wealthy community.
The Name “Tulip” Originates from Persia
Not only did tulips not originate in the Netherlands, neither did their name. The name “tulip” derives from the word “Tülbend,” which means turban in Turkish. It’s believed “tulip” was chosen because its shape resembled a turban.
Otherwise known as the Dutch Tulip Market Bubble, “Tulip Mania” was a time in the 1600s when the demand for tulips was high. Considered exotic for their time, the most sought-after varietals commanded upwards of six times the average Dutchman’s average annual salary. At one point, it’s rumored a handful of bulbs could be traded for real estate. Eventually, an oversaturated market forced growers to reduce their prices, which ultimately, leading many dealers to bankruptcy.
Tulips Exist in Nearly Every Color… Except for Blue
There are 3,000 different varieties of tulips, but none of them are true blue. Although some may dispute this and claim there are blue tulips, they are primarily purple or lilac tinted, such as this variety, known as Wild Blue Heart Tulip™️.
Tulips Are Edible
You can eat tulips. Well, the bulbs at least. During the winter famine in 1944, the Dutch government published a guide on preparing tulip bulbs for consumption. They even created recipes, much like this Tulip Bulb Soup. The late Father Leo Zonneveld remembered eating bread made from tulip bulbs as a young boy. He likened them to sawdust.
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Image Credit: Alena Leskova